Alcohol Consumption is Associated with Cancer Risks


Alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk for several types of cancer, including those of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, and liver. Alcohol also interacts synergistically with tobacco to create cancer risks that are significantly greater than the sum of the effects produced by acting alone. Limiting ones consumption of alcoholic beverages can therefore be an effective way of decreasing cancer risk.

Recommendations concerning alcohol consumption are complicated by the fact that unlike tobacco, which has no known health benefits, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol have been linked to about a 25% reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease.

The observation that the incidence of heart disease is relatively low in France despite high rates of saturated fat intake and smoking has led to the claim that red wine is particularly beneficial. However, epidemiological studies have failed to show a reliable difference in the heart benefits of drinking wine versus any other kind of alcohol.

Although alcohol’s beneficial effects on the heart have been fairly well established, these benefits are only seen at moderate levels of drinking—that is, no more than one to two drinks per day Alcohol consumption in excess of these levels has no discernible health benefits and creates a variety of health hazards, including an increased risk of cancer.

Anyone considering modest levels of alcohol con­sumption to exploit its beneficial effects on the heart might want to consider their own medical and family history to determine whether they have any predispositions to cardiovascular disease (where alcohol may be helpful) or cancer (where alcohol is more likely to be harmful).

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Christopher Lancer

Journal Manager

Advances in Cancer Prevention


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